Bombings fail to slow Pat's Run participants - New York News

Bombings fail to slow Pat's Run participants

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TEMPE, Ariz. -

Thousands gathered in Tempe early Saturday morning for the 9th annual Pat's Run -- a 4.2 mile race that honors a true American hero.

Former Arizona State University and Cardinals football player Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 -- a result of friendly fire.

Runners not only remembered him, but they also paid special tribute to the people affected by the tragedy that took place in Boston.

28,000 runners took off from the starting line.  Cheering them on from the sideline was Chandler resident Mike Hallen who ran the Boston Marathon Monday.

"I think we're seeing a tremendous amount of support for Americans and runners.. a tragedy like that just makes us stronger.. want to do this more," he said.

Hallen finished 35 minutes before the bombs exploded. His wife had been standing dangerously close to where the second device detonated, but moved moments before.

"It is scary, but I tell you what, after coming back from Boston and feeling so much love, so many people.. we just wanted to be here today," said Sylvia Halen.

Another Pat's Run participant and Boston native, Rob Chiste, said, "My wife.. she got me into running.  We actually signed up prior to the whole thing at Boston Marathon. I've been there before, I've been at the start line at the finish line.  Just seeing what happened was pretty devastating to me personally.. I'm glad I could be here today to do this for my home town."

Signs of support were everywhere, as was a sense of pride and community -- the runners harboring hope for a better tomorrow.

"It just shows we're not afraid.  We're strong as Americans," said Stephanie McNeal.

As soon as news of the bombings broke on Monday, event organizers reached out to law enforcement to make sure there would be an increased sense of security that was evident.

"Bottom line is we got this event very well covered.  We have the best personnel out," said Tempe Police Sgt. Mike Poole.

Poole says agencies worked together.  From K-9 units to the FBI to make safety a top priority.

"You get scared to go out and continue doing what you normally do, but then you gotta think like you have to keep going," said Bonny Skiles.

Any concerns were quickly put aside for the 4.2 mile run to honor Tillman and the heroes in Boston.

After Monday's tragedy in Boston, Tempe police had asked people not to bring backpacks to Pat's Run -- most complied.

Police thanked members of the community for cooperating and making it easier for them to keep people safe.

Related stories:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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